My mother passed away on Monday of this week at the age of eighty two. How can I begin to explain the mark my mother has had on so many people as she has walked her way through life. She was born in Chester, PA to the daughter of a printing missionary. After spending a few years in Burma (now Myanmar) on the mission field, as a child, the family returned to the Chester area where they lived for the rest of her childhood and teen years.
As a young teenager she met my dad, who lived just a block away from her most of their lives. Even before graduating she married him and a couple years later they packed up everything they owned and moved down the Delmarva Peninsula to begin a life of farming. Dad always wanted to be a farmer so he gave it a shot, for a couple years. That’s all it took to convince him that farming was not for him. So they decided on a little different direction that still included farming, just a different kind, chicken farming.
For more than thirty five years mom and dad were involved in the chicken industry in some way, even raising 36,000 chickens at a time of their own. You have to understand the setting. Sussex County, DE, where they lived, is the #1 chicken growing county in the world. But it is not with farming that mom or dad most left their mark on life.
Now, mom was the one, from the very beginning, who brought God and church and Christ into the marriage. Dad grew up going to pubs more than churches. Dad’s uncle was actually a pub owner. So it was mom who introduced dad to God and the church. Dad loved mom so much that he was willing to follower her wherever she wanted him to go. So most often it was to church. Eventually God became real to dad and he took the spiritual lead in the family, but it was always mom that most kept the presence of God alive in our home.
Over the years the results of her love for God began to multiply with exponential results until today she leaves a legacy that few can match. I was the first in our family to decide to take the Christian college direction, as a result of a love for God my mother implanted in me from the very beginning of my life. Then there were others to follow. This is a list of her children and grandchildren that attended Roanoke Bible College (Now Mid Atlantic Christian University) and the years they attended or graduated.
Steve Thornton ’72, son
David Thornton ’85, son
The late Michael Thornton ex’73, son
Marsha Mitchell Hitch ex’86, granddaughter
Chris Thornton ’96, grandson
Jason Thornton ’99, grandson
Angela Thornton Rodkey ’02, granddaughter
Jenny Thornton Herbst ’07, granddaughter
Four of the above are in ministry leadership today while two others are married to ministers.
The legacy goes on and on indefinitely. We are never living for just today. What we do today affects generations and generations to come. My mom is a positive testimony to that fact. May her influence for Christ continue until He returns.